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Residents were concerned that, while the community did their best to look after vulnerable people, there needed to be better coordination to ensure that some people received appropriate care and support:

"I think that we need a community services representative out here that lives in the community that these people can be advocated for. A person that lives in the community, not someone that’s coming in a truck that needs a COF. That’s not my problem. My issue is that I live in a community which is dying and I see it all around me all the time. I could rattle off half a dozen names right now of people that need to be monitored. They’ve been diagnosed with terminal illnesses and they’re just living their days out with no help whatsoever. "

The ‘Cossie’ Club in Ōhura, which is open every day, as well as the one in Matiere, remain key places in the community for people to connect. It provided a warm place with meals available, which was valued especially through the colder months, and also had basic essential grocery items available:

"The Cossie Clubs are really community centres. They are huge. So you become members in them. It’s great, they’re the hub. The hub of the community. There’s one here and there’s one in Matiere. I think they go much better in a smaller community because they’re old fashioned in a big community. But they’re all we’ve got so we have to keep it."
"People will come in and it’s the first thing they will say, ‘it’s so warm in here’ and they sit there and have a hot meal, and then probably go home to a cold house."
"The Cossie Club, they sell milk and bread there. "

In terms of other groups who may be isolated from others in the community, participants noted that members of a local faith-based group did not, for the most part, connect with the wider community:

"I think the Hope group are self-isolating. They’ve got the prison over the road. They’re doing fine but they don’t really socialise with the rest of us. They are Seventh Day Adventist, and they keep together and have their own beliefs and lifestyle. They may bring people out there to help them who have problems with alcohol and things like that. They do have a health, a detox and things like that. They have camps. They home school, they’ve got their own beliefs."
"They do rehabilitation. But the people that work in the rehabilitation unit aren’t necessary qualified to do the work so it can turn into a bit of an affair. "

It was considered that there was not a lot for young adults in the area, although some locals did try to provide opportunities:

"There isn’t anything for young ones here and they’re bored and they try not to get into trouble and it’s hard work. And we try to do things with them. (Redacted, personal name) is really good at the rugby club, gets them all working and helping out in the area. Then there’s the ones doing martial arts and stuff. We’re trying to get their trust back. For a lot of them it’s boredom. "

In Ōhura and the surrounding villages there are sometimes social events held, which are considered important to bring locals together, though coordinating these events was a lot of effort for organisers:

"We try. We try. Yes. We just had the Pig Hunt. And a Soup and Music Evening."
"We have been doing a few things in Tokirima and reaching out into the wider community as well. For us to be social but also creating a space for people to go to and listen to music. There is a dinner this weekend with a band. A Matariki dinner and that’s a sit-down dinner with a band. Guest speakers. It takes a lot of work."
"It’s quite easy for a community to let a building go, or stick to yourself. But it also comes into mental health around our community. We don’t have a hub, so it will be like, let’s get together. Just check in with each other. But to do that has had so many hurdles. So, at the moment I’m going through like now the hall isn’t registered as a place we can do that. And our license around alcohol. But this is something that (redacted, personal name) and I take on and we also have a lot of other things going on. And it’s almost like when you start to do something for the community you get a bit of backlash. Like oh, it’s too expensive, but we are not taking anything from this."
"It gives, personally, me an opportunity to be creative. That was the main drive first of all. And then to give people a bit of a social… it’s so fun. It’s top notch. It’s not just a sausage sizzle."
"For me when I first came back, 7 or 8 years ago, everyone was so disconnected. You’d have 4 committees in one little town, and they were right next to each other. We’re small, we’ve got to work together. We’ve been working hard.”"
"Pig Hunts are huge. It all brings everyone together and makes a huge difference."

Generally, however the community was seen as quite well connected:

"The people here are like the glue. They hold this all together. We see people every day. It’s absolutely fabulous, that community spirit is really what keeps us here. We wouldn’t like to be living anywhere else. We have had opportunities to live somewhere else, and we’ve turned them all down. This is definitely the best place on the planet to be regardless of the challenges. You’re going to get challenges everywhere you go. What we have discovered since being here, is dropping a whole lot of our beliefs and dislikes that we brought with us. Becoming more tolerant. Accepting things as they are. Understanding you can’t have chickens with roosters. Things like that."
"The community spirit here, shown at the hunt. I reckon that’s the strong thing, to keep it all there. Everyone came out to help with the pig hunt. And it is a challenge for the Cossie Club to keep going. And without people coming and giving their time, this would all fall apart. "

Drugs was noted as a concern for some residents, with some considering P as the key driver of antisocial behaviours in the area, though others disagreed:

"‘P’ in particular is a big problem. Theft, burglaries to pay for their addictions. Mainly inappropriate behaviour. Wheelies in the middle of the night. Car races. All sorts of things going on. Most of it is P related, most of these antisocial behaviours."
"I wouldn’t say that. No. I don’t think its… a lot of it is that there’s just nothing for them to do. And a lot of those ones aren’t on P. The ones that I know. I wouldn’t agree, yeah. "

As in 2020, most crime and disorders were considered to arise from:

"… out of towners coming to town. It is. The out of towners that are coming in and I’ve seen it from my house. It’s not cool. New people moving in and people visiting. It’s often when there’s a function. It’s really an issue."

In terms of crime concerns, residents expressed that the main issues were:

"The regular rural stuff, that pops up every now and then. Diesel tanks, animals stolen. Four wheelers go missing. And tractors, someone took a tractor a couple of weeks ago. Where would you put a tractor? Mainly farms."
"They steal cars, bring them out here and set them on fire. And then the fire brigade gets called out to put them out. And dead cars in the bush everywhere. So we get thefts from Hamilton, they drive the stolen car down here, set it on fire and bugger off. A few of those."
"Domestic violence, yes, domestic violence. But police won’t come. That’s what I find. They say it’s too far. So you’re sort of on your own here. Pitchfork justice."
"The police come for some things, dumb things. They come for stupid things but not the things you actually want."

It was noted that the Rural Support Trust was active and available in the area.

"They’ve got heaps of people in Taumarunui and if you rang to say my neighbour is elderly and can’t get out of their house, a rural support trust worker would get in there and they might bring some milk, bread, toilet paper with them. There’s also been stories within the community about farmers struggling, haven’t been able to feed their families, get groceries, things like that. And that’s probably our whole community. "

Finally, there were concerns expressed that the Civil Defence Kits at the schools and halls were not regularly updated or checked.

Biggest challenges for Ōhura:

  • Roading quality
  • Earning a reasonable, stable income
  • The people – challenges between individuals and difficulties reconciling diverse beliefs

Best things about Ōhura:

  • The people and community
  • The benefits of living rurally
  • Relatively low cost of living
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